True or False? Common Exercise Myths Busted


Health Professionals at Diabetes NSW & ACT have busted some common exercise misconceptions.


Belief 1: No pain, no gain!


While it’s quite normal to experience minor muscle soreness a day or two after exercising, exercise itself should not be painful. Pain during exercise usually means some sort of damage or injury is occurring and the exercise should be stopped immediately.

Exercise should be challenging for our bodies in order to gain improvements and may lead to some discomfort but should never be painful!

Belief 2: If I don’t sweat I’m not losing weight.


Sweat is not necessarily an indicator of exertion. It’s a biological response that cools your skin and regulates internal body temperature – it’s how the body cools itself. There is considerable variability in sweating rates between individuals. It is possible to burn a significant amount of energy without breaking a sweat. Losing weight requires burning kilojoules, not necessarily sweating profusely.

Belief 3: Sit ups and crunches will get rid of my belly fat.


Despite various marketing campaigns telling us otherwise, the simple fact is we can’t spot target weight loss. These exercises will work to improve the rectus abdominis muscle (our six pack muscles) but you won’t see the “six pack” if the fat layer remains on top of it.  A combination of aerobic and resistance exercise as well as a healthy balanced diet is required to attempt to shift our body composition to increase lean muscle mass and decrease fat.

Belief 4: I’m too old to exercise!


It’s never too late to start an exercise regime and improve your overall health. The key is to find an exercise that’s right for your individual needs taking into consideration your fitness level, any conditions and restrictions you may have.

Belief 5: I’m too tired to exercise.


The truth is that regular exercise can increase energy levels and reduce fatigue even among people suffering from chronic medical conditions associated with fatigue, like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

If tiredness is due to poor sleep, then good news here too! Exercise also improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration, reduces stress and tires you out. Early morning and afternoon exercise may also help reset the sleep wake cycle by raising body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later.

Belief 6: I don’t have enough time to commit to long bouts of exercise so there’s no point in doing it at all.


Being more physically active in your everyday life will help to reduce the negative health impacts of a sedentary lifestyle which is always a good starting point.

In addition, doing some exercise is always better than none, so start to think of ways you can incorporate shorter bouts of exercise throughout your day. Examples are doing some resistance exercises in front of the TV of an evening or going for a 10-15 minute brisk walk.  You might find that in no time at all your accumulating bouts of exercise that do actually meet the physical activity recommendations.

Belief 7: Doing the housework and gardening is enough activity for optimal health.


These activities are not usually performed at an intensity level, duration or frequency that meet the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines which are based on the minimum requirements needed to achieve health benefits from activity. What these activities are helpful for is reducing our sedentary behaviours and it is the combination of these things – reducing sedentary behaviour and exercising as per the guidelines that will assist with optimal health.

Belief 8: Exercise is bad for my joints and will make my arthritis worse.


If your arthritis is painful, you may understandably be reluctant to take part in exercise. However exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for arthritis. Being active can improve mobility and flexibility of joints, increase muscle strength to further support joints, improve posture and balance and reduce pain and stiffness. The important thing is that you do the right type of exercise for you. Low impact activities are usually the most comfortable & should incorporate aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises.

Belief 9: I’m not losing weight so why bother keeping up my exercise routine.


Firstly, a positive change in body composition (increase of lean muscle and decrease of fat) may not be reflected as a weight loss on the scales despite the fat loss. But you may notice clothes being looser or having to tighten the belt a notch. Secondly, weight loss is not the be all and end all when it comes to exercise. There are so many positive health gains possible when a regular exercise regime is undertaken, such as improved blood glucose levels, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol; so don’t be disillusioned by a number on the scales, if your exercising, your health is benefitting!




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